Baumgart out as Cologne coach with team stuck in Bundesliga relegation zone

AP , Thursday 21 Dec 2023

Relegation-threatened Cologne is parting ways with coach Steffen Baumgart because of the team’s difficult start to the season.

Steffen Baumgart
FC Cologne Coach Steffen Baumgart gives instructions during the Bundesliga soccer match between Union Berlin and FC Cologne in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday Dec. 20, 2023. AP

 

The Bundesliga club said Thursday that the 51-year-old coach had jointly agreed with managing director Christian Keller and sporting director Thomas Kessler not to continue.

“After the current unsatisfactory start to the season, we were very open, direct, factual and respectful in the last days and weeks, as to whether or not the strength and conviction are there in the required amount,” Keller said. “For that reason, it is to be fully respected that Steffen questioned his own personal conviction. As a result, we collectively decided to end our working relationship — even when that hurts, personally.”

Baumgart’s last game in charge was a 2-0 loss at his ex-club Union Berlin on Wednesday. Both teams had been level on just 10 points going into their last game before the winter break. Cologne remained in the relegation zone after the defeat.

Baumgart had already hinted after the game that he was thinking of quitting.

“Cologne is my club. When you’re working 2½ years at a club, it’s not about throwing in the towel or not. It’s about what’s the best thing for this club. It doesn’t mean yes or no, but I think we have to be clear — we’re all responsible and we have to answer for it,” Baumgart said.

Baumgart took over in 2021 and quickly became a fan favorite for his direct manner and passion for the team. He led it to seventh place in his first season, then 11th in the next. Now it’s in a fight for Bundesliga survival.

Keller had publicly backed the coach five weeks ago but their relationship had reportedly suffered in the meantime.

Cologne made no mention of a possible successor to Baumgart, who had a contract to 2025.

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